(The Canadian Press)

WORLD CUP: Sun never sets in a St. Petersburg summer

Read up on one of Russia’s 11 host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, starting June 14

Known as Russia’s “Window on Europe,” St. Petersburg is a city like no other.

Imperial palaces line its network of canals, its stadium looks like a spaceship and some days the sun never sets. St. Petersburg is so far north that the last three weeks of June are “White Nights,” with the sky remaining light 24 hours a day.

Here’s what you need to know about one of the 11 World Cup host cities in Russia:

THE STADIUM

The vast St. Petersburg Stadium was a headache for the Russian government, taking a decade to build as costs soared to 43 billion rubles ($670 million). Worker deaths and corruption scandals marred the project.

The result is Zenit St. Petersburg’s new 67,000-seat home, which resembles a spaceship parked on the shore of the Baltic Sea. Fans should leave plenty of time to get there, since it’s a 25-minute walk from the nearest subway station.

WHAT TO KNOW

St. Petersburg’s grandeur is all down to the vision of one man.

Obsessed with trying to modernize his country, the 18th-century Czar Peter the Great decreed a new capital would be built from scratch in a swamp by the Baltic Sea. The idea was to create a metropolis as a centre for European technology and ideas to enter Russia, to force the Russian nobility to adopt European traditions, and to display the glory of Peter’s empire.

Soviet revolutionaries later moved the capital back to Moscow, but locals still see St. Petersburg as Russia’s cultural capital.

READ MORE: FIFA to probe Russian racism against France players

WHAT TO DO

The grand avenue of Nevsky Prospekt is St. Petersburg’s heart, running past parks, theatres and shops to the opulent Palace Square. That’s where Bolshevik revolutionaries took power in 1917 by seizing the Winter Palace.

Visitors can drink in the city’s beauty with a boat trip through the canals, or see some of the world’s most celebrated art in the famous Hermitage Museum.

St. Petersburg is a city of restaurants and bars, offering everything from fine dining to some of Russia’s best craft beer. At night, the bridges between the city’s islands lift to allow ships to pass — something to bear in mind to avoid being stranded on a night out.

WHAT TO WATCH

St. Petersburg will host seven World Cup games, starting with the Group B game between Morocco and Iran on June 15.

Russia’s World Cup hopes could be dashed by Mohamed Salah and Egypt in the Group A game on June 19.

Brazil plays Costa Rica in Group E on June 22, followed by Argentina taking on Nigeria in Group D on June 26.

In the knockout stages, St. Petersburg hosts one game in the round of 16, as well as a semifinal and the third-place playoff.

The World Cup kicks off June 14 and runs until July 15.

James Ellingworth, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Trapped indoors: smoke from wildfires especially hard on Langley man with respiratory problems

Air quality warning issued for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley

Driver reported in critical condition following crash in Aldergrove

White Rock man was not wearing seatbelt when he collided with two other vehicles, Langley RCMP said

Langley rider looks for hometown advantage if she makes World Cup

It won’t be known until Friday if Langley’s L.J. Tidball qualifies for the Longines FEI competition.

VIDEO: Soccer superstar comes to Langley

Teen phenomenon Alphonso Davies of the Vancouver Whitecaps to appear at kids soccer camp

Comeback win by Raiders against Langley Rams

Nanaimo team erases 31-7 deficit to beat Rams 35-34

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Case of truck driver charged in Humboldt Broncos crash adjourned until October

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu is charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death, other charges

REVIEW: MTV VMAs was a shocking event, for the wrong reasons

MTV Video Music Awards lacked star power and felt flat and some of the winners turned heads

4.6 quake detected off coast of Vancouver Island

The small earthquake happened early Tuesday morning

Puppies picked up by BC Wildfire crew to be returned to family

They were just leaving the Monashee Complex of fires when they found the cutest creatures.

At least 14 illegal fires set in Fraser Valley this month

Conservation officers are fed up with people not listening to the province-wide fire ban

5 to start your day

Langley woman charged in daughter’s murder, Canada beats Mexico and more

B.C. woman promoting ‘orange glow’ campaign to support firefighters

A Penticton woman is hoping an orange ribbon campaign will catch on throughout B.C.

Air Canada-led consortium signs deal to buy Aeroplan program

The deal would acquire the Aeroplan loyalty program from Aimia Inc

Most Read